RAPID DEWATERING SOLUTION PROVIDED ACROSS BORDER

Reacting promptly to customer calls for dewatering solutions is what has set Integrated Pump Rental apart, especially in the mining sector. The company recently responded to an urgent need for a dewatering pump at an East African mine.

“If not dealt with promptly, flooding in a mine environment will not only impede productivity but in some cases, lead to unsafe working conditions,” managing director of Integrated Pump Rental, Lee Vine explains. “All of this will result in consequential losses which is why we understand the need to respond quickly to customer calls for dewatering solutions.”

In this recent example, a mine in an East African country reached out to this leading dewatering pump solution supplier. Unseasonably high rainfall had caused major flooding and the mine’s traditional suppliers had quoted long lead times to get equipment to the site. This obviously posed a major risk for the mine.

Vine explains that one of the company diesel driven Skykes pump sets had just completed its contract on a diamond mine in Lesotho and was en route back to the company’s facility in Johannesburg.

“The unit only had 160 hours on it and we immediately did a full assessment of the pump, serviced it and tested it on our in-house test rig to ensure that it would provide the performance and reliability required for its new task,” he says.

“What is most significant is that within one week of receiving the call from the mine, we were able to get the pump set ready, across border and installed on site dealing with the dewatering challenge,” Vine says.

The pump set comprises a Sykes XH150 high head diesel driven pump which is capable of a flow rate of 100 litres per second at a total dynamic head of 150 metres in this application. The skid mounted solution will more than capably deal with the dewatering application at the mine, and the customer made the decision to purchase the unit as opposed to renting it.

BOOYCO BOOSTS IN-HOUSE ENGINEERING TEAM

At the forefront of technological innovation in collision avoidance systems (CAS), Booyco Electronics is investing heavily in its expertise by actively growing its engineering department in the coming months.

“Engineering the solutions that will ensure safer working places is at the heart of our business,” says Pieter Wolfaardt, chief operations officer at Booyco Electronics. “Collision avoidance is a field that demands highly technical electronic devices as safety deterrents, and we are continually strengthening our capacity to develop and deliver these solutions.”

As the standards governing collision avoidance in the mining industry become more stringent, the technologies serving this need are evolving rapidly as well, says Wolfaardt.

Booyco Electronics has a large market share in South Africa, and its learnings from implementation across many mine sites are incorporated in its solutions offerings further underpinning the company’s commitment to industry best practice principles.

While engineering designs around Booyco products are often customised to meet specific customer and site applications, these are fully aligned with all legislative requirements for the South African mining industry including SANS Codes. The Booyco product range also conforms to the guidelines laid down by the Earth Moving Equipment Safety Round Table (EMESRT).

“It is our engineering team that develops the product offerings for our customers’ requirements, and the development process never ends,” he says. “They are involved in research and development, extensive testing, and ongoing upgrades.”

Wolfaardt highlights that the company is looking ahead to the kinds of technologies that will be required by 2025, and is aligning itself with that vision. All three of the company’s main product lines – CWS, CXS and PDS – are receiving constant attention and improvement.

Among the most important recent technical achievements has been a ‘scalable’ design that suits a wide range of customer requirements without them having to change hardware on the equipment. Rather, the firmware or the software can be updated on a continuous basis.

“Our increased engineering capacity will support customers who are still getting to grips with changing CAS requirements, especially those mines who are new to CAS,” he says. “Customers often request that our systems to be tested on their trackless mining machinery as they seek the optimal solution. With our increased capacity in the engineering department we can offer a highly systematic and professional service in terms of technology integration and on-site testing.”

The substantial current team of 18 engineers, artisans and technicians will grow to over 30 in the near future. Key qualifications in the department include electronics engineers as well as BTech degrees and National Diplomas, with qualified technicians undertaking most of the testing functions.

“Mining experience is also important in our team, as this improves the way we design and integrate systems for the real working environment in mines,” Wolfaardt concludes.

SPH KUNDALILA KEEPS MINING WHEELS TURNING

Management commitment to health and safety standards, combined with good planning and ongoing auditing, has allowed opencast contractor SPH Kundalila to sustain operations, wherever permitted.

“The cost and the disruption have been significant, but we acted early to put resources and systems in place,” says Graeme Campbell, group commercial and operations manager at SPH Kundalila. “It has been particularly important to constantly review our performance. Learning from the experience of our different sites has also helped keep safety standards high.”

Most of the company’s work sites were required to close at the start of the lockdown, requiring shutdown procedures at each site. This included planning for the movement of staff and equipment, while updating access control measures.

It also meant collaborating closely with mines to ensure that clients’ requirements were also observed. Limited operations continued at SPH Kudalila’s own dolomite and lime mine, designated as an essential service due to its product’s importance to farming.

According to SPH Kundalila safety manager Quintin van der Merwe, an important aspect of the response has been the drafting a revised safety, health, environment and quality (SHEQ) policy.

“Our Covid-19 policy is the highest level of commitment from senior management to address the risks that were emerging from the lockdown,” says van der Merwe. “This covers a range of issues from financial provision and the supply of protective equipment, to respect and care for employees.”

Based on a Covid-19 management plan, SPH Kundalila is continually assessing the risks facing employees and operations. Attention is also placed on education and awareness-raising, as well as continuous improvement while observing Covid-19 regulations as they evolve.

“Being quick off the mark was key to our response – which included securing 1,000 litres of hand sanitiser and 1,000 cloth masks even before the lockdown,” he says. “The focus then moved to risk assessment and mitigation, such as the risk of infection from employees’ movements and sharing of equipment and office space.”

Results have been positive, says Campbell. With about 1,000 employees spread over 10 branches and half a dozen mining sites countrywide, the company was already 90% operational by the end of May. The high standards followed by SPH Kundalila align with those of the Raubex Group as well as the Aggregate and Sand Producers Association (ASPASA).

“This has ensured that our internal audits – and those by our clients and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy – have made no adverse findings during the lockdown to date,” he says. “As a caring company, we have seen employees responding well to the changing demands. This translates into sustaining a high level of service across our operations.”

ZEST WEG PARTNERS WITH PANACO IN KATANGA

As part of strengthening its African footprint, Zest WEG has appointed established local firm Panaco as its value-added reseller (VAR) in the Katanga region of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

According to Zest WEG’s Africa business development executive, Taylor Milan, Panaco is a 100% locally-owned business that has successfully serviced the region for over 40 years.

“Panaco is a well-established and respected company with strong business relationships with nearly all of our current clients,” Milan says. “Its business methodology and culture are closely aligned with ours, and this synergy will aid us in supporting our current installed base, client network and growth expectations.”

He highlights the increasing importance of local content in the supply of equipment and services across the continent. Zest WEG has prioritised closer partnerships with local firms as a key element of its sustainable growth strategy in Africa.

Milan also emphasises the importance of VARs in this strategy. “Going beyond the role of just a distributor, a VAR is a local business chosen to promote and support the wide range of Zest WEG’s offering. It carries the whole Zest WEG brand into local markets,” he says.

“Panaco has the ability to assist us in growing the comprehensive WEG product portfolio well beyond our traditional low-voltage motor and drive business,” he says. “It has business facilities in Lubumbashi, Kolwezi and Kinshasa – bringing our services and support closer to customers in this fast-growing region.”

The VAR partnership will provide locally accessible support and skills, substantial stockholding and quality products at competitive pricing; it will also build strong and service-oriented customer relationships, says Milan.

Zest WEG has also appointed DRC firm AEMI as a WEG-accredited repair facility, after AEMI successfully met the demanding OEM standards. The company has a full repair facility in Likasi, and another in Kinshasa.

FLSMIDTH GIVES STACKER RECLAIMER NEW LIFE

A comprehensive refurbishment on an FLSmidth stacker reclaimer in South Africa is preparing this giant machine for another decade of sustainable productivity.

“As OEM and intellectual property owner, FLSmidth is undertaking the mid-life refurbishment of a stacker reclaimer and tripper car for a customer in a large iron ore application,” says Buks Roodt, Director of Mining Site Sales at FLSmidth. “The extensive work programme is being conducted over two shutdown periods – one in 2019 and another one this year.”

The 2019 scope of work was carried out over three weeks, followed by commissioning and handover. After site access was authorised, the bucket wheel structure and component arrived on site and secondary structural steel fabrication was also completed timeously and delivered.

A comprehensive refurbishment on an FLSmidth stacker reclaimer in South Africa is preparing this giant machine for another decade of sustainable productivity.

According to Gunther Guse, Manager of Mining Site Salesat FLSmidth, structural integrity repairs were carried out alongside large-scale corrosion protection. To ensure life expectancy and maintain reliability, a range of components and systems were refurbished. These included items that would normally only be exposed to standard maintenance practices and services. The integrity of electrical components was also renewed.

In addition to the bucket wheel fabrication and replacement, the full programme scope included refurbishing the long travel drive assembly, rail clamps and end buffer, as well as the hydraulic system, lubrication system and water hose reeler. Bucket wheel boom stay ropes were replaced, and the spillage conveyor was redesigned, fabricated and installed.

“An important aspect of this refurbishment contract is the installation of technological improvements,” says Guse. “Our continuous improvement process at FLSmidth leads to the introduction of components that are more energy efficient, for instance, or allow greater ease of maintenance. We are incorporating these advancements as part of the scope, reducing the client’s cost per tonne loaded.”

These upgrades, when combined with regular maintenance, can also enhance the machine’s life expectancy, extending its longevity even beyond the initial design life of about 30 years. Guse highlights that FLSmidth’s extensive capability in three engineering disciplines is being brought to bear in the project. This expertise covers mechanical, structural and electrical, control and instrumentation engineering.

On the mechanical side, the work includes components and systems such as the open gear systems, gearboxes and hydraulic systems, as well as rotating and moving parts such as trunnions and car-clamps. Structural work includes wear liners, supporting structures and areas of possible structural damage. Also, maintenance detection is undertaken including non-destructive testing for fatigue fracturing. This is done in areas where access to certain structures is not normally possible while equipment is in service.

The electrical, control and instrumentation work includes panels and drives that are approaching the ends of their useful lives. As part of the scope, variable speed drives, motor control centres and the E-house will be refurbished. Where any equipment had become obsolete, newer technologies will be incorporated.

“Our FLSmidth site engineering team had initially conducted a detailed site condition assessment,” he says. “We documented all our findings in three inspection reports – one for each discipline. These findings were used as the basis for the client’s final project scope.”

Roodt emphasises the relationship of trust between customer and OEM, which is vital to mitigate risk and ensure quality performance within demanding deadlines.

“As the OEM, FLSmidth was able to offer our premium technologies and our leading process know-how and services,” he says. “The customer could also rest assured with their direct access to the designers of the OEM equipment.”

A global track record of safe working practices while complying to the project timelines also contributes to minimised risk and smooth implementation, competitively. The scope of work during the customer’s 2019 shutdown was completed without incident or any lost time injuries.

“The customer also valued FLSmidth’s commitment to B-BBEE, supplier development and integration with the local community,” Roodt says.

The second phase of the refurbishment is planned to be carried out in the third quarter of 2020, says Guse.

“We are known for our expertise in large-scope upgrades, refurbishments and retrofit projects,” he says. “This gives customers confidence in our methodology, risk assessment, engineering support and analysis. We are also experienced in project planning, scheduling and implementation, combined with quality assurance and control, commissioning and close-out.”

FLSmidth also assays iron ore for customers and has designed and built fully automated, robotic on-site laboratories. According to Martin Matthysen, Director of Sampling, Preparation and Analysis – Mining at FLSmidth, the company independently operates and maintains sampling systems on behalf of customers.

CONCOR PAVES THE WAY FOR REMOTE BOTSWANA MINE

Tackling the demanding conditions of Botswana’s Kalahari Desert, Concor Infrastructure is nearing completion of a 35 km access road for the Khoemacau Copper Silver Starter Project. Concor is also busy with constructing a parallel haul road , as well as conducting earthworks and concrete civils at the Khoemacau Boseto processing plant.

The Khoemacau Copper Project, located in the central Kalahari copper belt some 65 km southwest of Maun, is developing underground operations at its flagship Zone 5 deposit. The mine plan involves three adjacent underground mines at Zone 5, each producing over 1,2 million tonnes a year in their first five years of production. The haul road will allow mineralised material to be trucked 35 km from Zone 5 to the Boseto processing facility, while the access road will be used by light vehicles. After processing at Boseto, the mineral concentrate will be shipped out for smelting.

Good progress has been made on construction of the access road according to Jay Juganan, contracts director at Concor Infrastructure. The contract for both the access and haul roads was awarded in November 2018.

“The access road was little more than a sand track when we established on site and was accessible only by 4×4 vehicles,” says Juganan. “Essentially, we are creating a corridor for both roads in parallel, and for the powerlines to be installed by another contractor.”

The planning of the haul road also had to consider the large and ancient Baobab trees that are common in the area. Preservation of these trees is a vital imperative, requiring the haul road to be diverted on occasion to avoid about half a dozen Baobabs, which are hundreds of years old.

While the access road is 90% complete and due for completion in Q3 2020, the work on the haul road is also expected to be completed in Q3 this year. Road construction comprises a 600 mm deep cut filled with pioneer crushed rock followed by a G3 sub base and base layer. In some areas the crushed rock is replaced by a natural calcrete. The wearing course is a 9/19 mm double seal. Concor has had to crush all aggregate on site from the old mine waste rock stockpile at Boseto.

Concor Infrastructure contracts manager Tiaan Krugel notes the remote location of the site and the dry conditions are among the key challenges encountered on this project.

“The sourcing and timing of the supply of equipment, parts and construction material required careful and detailed planning,” Krugel says. “The majority had to come from the capital Gaborone – 900 km away, with the other challenge being that most of our equipment OEMs are based in Johannesburg, which is more than 1 300 km from site.”

The scope of Concor’s work at the Boseto process plant, the contract which was awarded in November 2019, includes earthworks and concrete civils to the existing and for the new process plant structures for the crushing, milling, flotation and concentrate handling circuits. The plant had previously treated material from an open pit copper mining operation at Boseto, under the ownership of a different company.

Krugel highlights the challenges of working with concrete on a remote site, especially where temperatures can reach over 40 degrees Celsius during working hours.

“A special concrete mix was designed to accommodate on-site conditions,” he says. “This includes the use of admixtures to prolong the concrete’s workability as well as having to chill the water we use before it is added to the cement and aggregates.”

In addition to the refurbishment and upgrading work at Boseto, Concor has also contributed to preparing the infrastructure at the Zone 5 mining site, where underground development is underway. The work included all internal roads at the Zone 5 mine, terracing for the 650-person accommodation camp, the mine administration surface infrastructure area, the mine workshops and stores area and the explosives magazine together with construction of the ROM pads. The Khoemacau Starter Project expects to produce 62,000 tonnes of copper and 1,9 million ounces of silver each year over its planned life of more than 20 years.

“Despite the restrictions related to the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a reduction of staff numbers on site due to individual choices, we are working hard to ensure that programme schedules will be met,” says Juganan.

COVID-19 MAKING ‘DRAMATIC’ CHANGES TO FUTURE OF MINING

The Coronavirus (Covid-19) lockdown is adding impetus to the adoption of technology in mining in a way that is likely to change the sector quite dramatically, according to Simon Andrews, managing director at Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology Southern Africa.

Within the legal restrictions, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology has continued operations in support of its mining customers in South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe and Mozambique.

“Our structure – in which each country is managed independently – has proved invaluable under the lockdown conditions,” Andrews says. “This ensures we have the necessary skills in-country and on-site. In fact, there has been no need for our staff to cross borders.”

Most Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology staff are set up in home offices to keep the wheels turning, and a return to the normal office environment will not be considered before September. The company is also leveraging the technology in its equipment to facilitate remote working.

With its advanced mining automation and teleoperation systems, it is possible to monitor machines and optimise operations from any distance. Andrews says Sandvik has long promoted the merits of this technology, but it is not always simple to dislodge established practices in a conservative industry.

“No-one likes change, and the introduction of technology in any mining process can demand considerable commitment,” he says. “Rather like going to gym, everyone agrees that adopting technology has benefits for business, but actually acting on that belief, however, is a different story altogether.”

He highlights that the practical implementation of technology means tackling a steep learning curve. There is usually a significant change management process required, and myriad teething problems to resolve.

“It is a difficult process, and there often has to be something to break the inertia,” he says. “Certainly, Coronavirus (Covid-19) has forced everyone to work differently and to adopt new technology. Just consider how we work from home with online platforms to communicate with colleagues and customers.”

Like most technology partners in mining, Sandvik Mining and Rock Technology had to accommodate a sharp drop in mining operations in the early stages of South Africa’s national lockdown. It continued working with its coal mining customers designated as essential services, and has been ramping up as the rest of the sector returns to work. Equipment and components have continued to be brought in by air and sea, ensuring necessary supplies to customers.

“We stay in close contact with all staff and customers, and the overall business looks positive,” says Andrews. “Projects are generally continuing and orders are coming through. We have, of course, been implementing cost-saving measures to preserve the business for 2020, as we look forward to a better 2021.”

He emphasises, however, that there will be no going back to normal when intensity of the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic eases. Technology will be increasingly embraced as it contributes to safer and more remote working practices.

“We want to be part of that journey with our mining customers, as they enter a new era of mining,” he says. “This will see technology, data management and remote operations become a way of life – making mines safer, more efficient and more sustainable.”

WEIR MINERALS AFRICA IN SOUTH AFRICAN EMPOWERMENT DEAL

In an important empowerment transaction for leading minerals solution provider Weir Minerals Africa, the company’s South African operation, Weir Minerals South Africa (Pty) Ltd, is now 25.1% owned by black empowerment partner Medu Capital.

According to Weir Minerals Africa Regional Managing Director Gavin Dyer the deal is another step in an ongoing transformation journey. The transaction was finalised in Johannesburg in May 2020.

“We have, over the years, made significant progress in terms of our employment equity, skills development, preferential procurement and socio-economic development,” says Dyer. “We are therefore very pleased to conclude this transaction, which creates an organisational ownership structure that is more representative of the demographics of South Africa.”

The deal has been facilitated by the creation of Weir Minerals South Africa (Pty) Ltd, whose assets include sales branches across the country, an assembly facility in Alrode, Gauteng, and a distributor network.

“This initiative also further enhances our value proposition to customers in the mining industry as they work to support the imperatives of Mining Charter 3,” he says.

Part of the global Weir Group PLC, Weir Minerals Africa serves primarily the mining sector around Africa and the Middle East. It also manufactures world-class mineral processing equipment for export to international group destinations. Listed on the London Stock Exchange, Weir’s engineering heritage dates back over 140 years.

“With its extensive local investment in skills, service capability and manufacturing capacity in South Africa, the Weir Group has always been supportive of our empowerment drive,” Dyer says. “This strengthens our position as a local technology leader serving global markets.”

Formed in 2003, Medu Capital is a 100% black-owned investment management company with a focus on private equity. Dyer highlights that Weir Minerals South Africa looks forward to Medu Capital becoming an active partner in guiding and fostering its future success.

Explaining the rationale behind Medu Capital taking up the shareholding in Weir Minerals South Africa, co-founder and director Ernest January says Weir Minerals has an outstanding reputation for high quality products.

“The company’s design, engineering and technical capabilities, combined with its high-quality standards and global reach, have led to impressive long-term customer relationships and a strong track record,” January says.

“We are proud to be associated with the Weir brand and support the company’s aim to achieve and maintain a competitive B-BBEE rating. We look forward to working with the management team to complement its value proposition to customers and are excited to participate in the company’s growth story.”

WEIR MINERALS AFRICA : SA EMPOWERMENT TRANSACTION

In an important empowerment transaction for leading minerals solution provider Weir Minerals Africa, the company’s South African operation, Weir Minerals South Africa, is now 25.1%-owned by black empowerment partner Medu Capital.

Finalised in Johannesburg in May 2020, the deal is another step in Weir Minerals Africa’s ongoing transformation journey.

The company has over the years made significant progress in terms of employment equity, skills development, preferential procurement and socio-economic development.

The conclusion of this transaction creates an organisational ownership structure that is more representative of the demographics of South Africa.

The deal has been facilitated by the creation of Weir Minerals South Africa (Pty) Ltd, whose assets include sales branches across the country, an assembly facility in Alrode, Gauteng, and a distributor network.

The initiative also further enhances the value proposition to customers in the mining industry as they work to support the imperatives of Mining Charter 3.

Part of the global Weir Group PLC, Weir Minerals Africa serves primarily the mining sector around Africa and the Middle East.

It also manufactures world-class mineral processing equipment for export to international group destinations.

Listed on the London Stock Exchange, Weir’s engineering heritage dates back over 140 years.

With its extensive local investment in skills, service capability and manufacturing capacity in South Africa, the Weir Group has always been supportive of local empowerment.

This transaction strengthens the company’s position as a local technology leader serving global markets.

Formed in 2003, Medu Capital is a 100% black-owned investment management company with a focus on private equity, and Weir Minerals Africa looks forward to Medu Capital becoming an active partner in guiding and fostering the future success of Weir Minerals South Africa.

NEW SPIRAL MEANS BETTER RECOVERIES FOR FERROCHROME – AND BEYOND

Following years of detailed test work in the ferrochrome sector, Multotec has successfully developed and proven a spiral concentrator that eliminates beaching and enhances recoveries in the 1 mm to 3 mm fractions of high density material.

Significantly, when compared to traditional spirals the new spiral has shown extraordinarily higher metal recoveries, even for minus 1 mm fractions in ferrochrome slag.

“Our SC25 spiral concentrator features steeper angles which facilitate the flow of material and increase separation efficiency,” says Hlayisi Baloyi, applications engineer at Multotec.

“It also widens the particle size range that can be treated by the spiral. Traditionally, spirals would struggle to efficiently treat material above 1 mm in heavy mineral applications, but this spiral can go well beyond that. The spiral has been a game changer even for the minus 1mm size range where higher separation efficiencies have been achieved on chromite ore.”

Baloyi says that this innovation has provided the minerals processing sector with an exciting alternative to jigs in the minus 3 to plus 1 size range, which have been one of the conventional methods of separating larger particles. The solution is cost effective as spirals use no electricity, and are also easy to maintain. So attractive is the new model that the first order for the commercialised version has already been placed.

“Taking ferrochrome samples from a number of mines over a period of two to three years, we conducted extensive test work on these at our well-equipped testing facility in Spartan near Johannesburg,” he says. “Leveraging this data with our in-house engineering design capacity, we were able to develop the optimal solution and locally manufacture the new spiral concentrator.”

The institutional knowledge within Multotec has been developed over more than four decades, including valuable expertise in fluid dynamics. Hands-on experience in test work and design allows the development of prototypes that solve customers’ specific challenges – followed by scaled-up local production of equipment to match market demand.

The economic benefits of the Multotec SC25 spiral for ferrochrome producers are substantial, as some plants were losing the value of their 1 to 3 mm material to the tailings storage facility. Many of those who used jigs to treat this fraction were also finding that their efficiencies were low.

“Ferrochrome is not the only commodity that we have successfully tested,” says Refentse Molehe, process engineer at Multotec. “We have even seen improved recovery in heavy minerals below 1 mm size, alluvial chrome, manganese slag and there is potential in industrial recycling.”

The recycling application opens up options for ‘urban mining’ – the recovery of metal particles from associated waste. Multotec has received a number of requests and conducted tests to recover metals from recycled electronic goods and from customers who intend to recover metal from industrial scrap.